Defense attorney Jim Berry knows a loser when he sees one. And his current client, Chancey Luna certainly falls into that category.
A story in today's The Oklahoman by Nolan Clay quotes Mr. Berry as telling potential jurors, "We're not going to try to establish to you that Mr. Luna did not shoot Mr. Lane." (Christopher Lane was an Australian baseball player who was preparing for his senior year at East Central Oklahoma State University) Berry went on to say, "He shot him. There was no motive, no plan to kill anyone. This is a reckless action by a 16 year old child."
Yes, it is the old, "my client is as stupid as a brick and it was a practical joke that went bad," defense. The prosecution contends things were a little darker than some sort of oops moment that might have been inspired by the movie, "Animal House." After the shooting, Stephens County Sheriff, Danny Ford told the media, Michael Jones, the driver of the car involved, answered the question of why by saying, "We were bored and decided to kill someone."
In a preliminary hearing, the third person in the car, James "Bug" Edwards testified he was busy rolling a joint in the front seat when the vehicle swerved and Luna, who was sitting behind him, fired a single shot. In addition he claims he heard Luna say to Jones afterward, "I thought there were supposed to be blanks in the gun." Jones' response was, "Me too. I'm sorry."
Last month Jones copped to a second degree murder plea. He got life, but will be eligible for parole in 36 years. "Bug" Edwards has been charged with accessory to murder after the fact and will testify once more in the case. If Chancey Luna is convicted of first degree murder he will get life without the possibility of parole. He's now 17 years old. Clay reports the defense plans on asking the judge to allow the jury to consider a charge of second degree murder which would put him away for anywhere from 10 years to life, with a chance at parole somewhere down the line. In either event young Mr. Luna is in for a long stay at a place, or places no one wants be at.
Meanwhile, Joseph Cyr will face trial next month in Oklahoma County. He is accused of murdering Jaymie Adams in December of 2011. Ms. Adams was pulling down tricks with the approval and encouragement of her husband, Justin Adams. At the time of her disappearance and death she was pregnant with her fifth child.
The whole sordid and deadly affair has led everyone down a long and twisted road. Police and the DA's office initially charged Justin Adams with the murder, but couldn't make a case against him, for what now appears to be obvious reasons. Unfortunately, as we all know too well, nothing is certain when it comes to the crew of prosecutors working out of the county courthouse in this burg. Let's face it, they're the same outfit who accused Luis Ruiz and Jimmy Massey of murdering of Carina Saunders only to drop the charges seven months later when it turned out they couldn't prove squat.
The gruesome killing of Ms. Saunders in the fall of 2011 remains unsolved, as does the death of Alina Fitzpatrick. Saunders' dismembered body was found stuffed in a duffel bag behind a supermarket during the second week of October that year. Fitzpatrick's nude body was discovered a little over a month later in an empty lot in far eastern Oklahoma City. Despite several obvious signs she had been the victim of violence, once the medical examiner determined Alina Fitzpatrick had enough meth in her system to be potentially lethal, the police lost all interest.
Oklahoma is a run amok conservative place. The politicians constantly rail on about God, guns, and the Marxist-Leninist-Muslim son of a bitch who currently resides in the White House. The local op-ed page letter section has been rife with indignation that a savagely racist fraternity was booted off the University of Oklahoma campus because a few of its members were simply exercising their right to free speech. Born again Christians rage to the heavens about the "liberal attacks," on their religion without any reference to that same free speech. Large numbers of these awful cretins, not to mention the local media, spew intricate, yet, utterly unfounded fairy tales about how the state is somehow more American and therefore better than New York, California, and other blue strongholds.
Given the circumstances it is easy to testify that the notion Oklahoma is better than anywhere else in this nation is a bit of a stretch. Tragically, the term more American may well apply.
sic vita est